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Dominic Njoku to be ordained a priest with the Josephites

The Nigerian seminarian will be ordained on Saturday morning at Corpus Christi Epiphany Catholic Church in New Orleans.

Josephite transitional deacon Dominic Njoku, left, with Bishop Emeritus John H. Ricard, SSJ of Pensacola-Tallahassee on Nojku's ordination day in December 2023 at the Church of the Incarnation in Washington. (The Josephites)

Dcn Dominic Tochi Njoku will be ordained to the priesthood on Saturday morning with the Society of the St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, also known as the Josephites and dedicated to serving African Americans.

The ordination Mass will be celebrated by the society’s superior general, Bishop Emeritus John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee at 10am CT in New Orleans at Corpus Christi Epiphany Catholic Church in the Seventh Ward.

The Nigerian seminarian currently serves as a theology teacher at the society’s flagship school, St. Augustine High in New Orleans, where he has been assigned since 2023. An announcement from the Josephites indicates that he will continue in the role after his ordination as a priest.

Njoku’s ordination Mass brings to a close the society’s annual retreat, held this year at the William J. Kelley Retreat Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, with director Msgr Richard J. Bozzelli of Baltimore. The venue is located on the grounds of St. Augustine Seminary, the nation’s first African-American Catholic seminary.

The weeklong gathering, which brings together the society’s members from around the country for prayer and official business, featured discussions on various topics, including the impending closure of four parishes staffed by the society in Baltimore.

The retreat closed with a First Profession Mass on Friday morning, where six novices officially joined the society as vowed members after a year in New Orleans with novice master Fr Roderick Coates, SSJ. The novices included Peter-Caver Anochirim, Aondosoo Solomon Kwaza, Abiodun Shedrack Michael, Innocent Anthony Okwarachukwu, Lawrence Ukwubile Omatola, and Emmanuel Chinedu Onuoha.

Five other Josephite seminarians—Charles Nwamadi, Linus James, Chidiebere Dominic, Alex Lema, and Justus Ihemawulotu—continued their studies this academic year at the Catholic University of America in Washington and renewed their temporary promises at the Jesuit Retreat House in Faulkner, Maryland on May 10. Their annual retreat featured priest and lay facilitators from the Josephite community, including Frs Ray Bomberger and Donald Fest, SSJ; Dcn Tim Tilghman of Washington, and Christian Bentley of Alexandria, Virginia.

Njoku’s ordination, which is open to the public, will be the first for the Josephites since spring 2023, when three new priests were added to the society’s ranks. Virtually all of the society’s new priests in recent decades have been of African descent, mainly from Nigeria, where the society recruits men to a formation house in the West African country.

The Josephites, currently numbering roughly 60 members, currently staff more than three dozen parishes in African-American communities of the Deep South, Texas, the Washington metropolitan area, Baltimore, and Los Angeles.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger.

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